Premium pay TV service selective about content

Orange’s credo is to provide content anywhere, anytime, and it backs that up by spending a few hundred million euros a year on content and rights. Yet the company’s premium pay TV service, Orange Cinema Series, doesn’t attempt to supply everything, focusing instead on carefully selected and packaged drama skeins and movies, presented on themed channels.

OCS VP Guillaume Jouhet says France is already well catered for when it comes to generalist entertainment outlets. Orange itself offers access to terrestrial broadcasters’ output. Also, through its transactional VOD service, its subscribers can download almost any pic that has had a general theatrical release. The service also carries content from TF1 Vision’s VOD service, which includes many mainstream Hollywood series.

OCS has pacted with HBO, Warner Bros. and MGM for output deals and signed package deals with Gallic distribs Gaumont and SND, tapping indie pics like “Twilight.” Plus, it picks up individual series and films from French, international and Hollywood distribs.

OCS Channels cater to the whole family: Cinemax has exclusive firstrun movies and high-profile skeins; Cinehappy presents kids’ content; Cinechoc shows action and genre fare; Cinenovo plays indie pics and cult series; and Cinegeants features classics.

With films, OCS focuses on franchises and pics from major directors, promoting them in their smallscreen firstrun status. One example: OCS’ Batman night in November centers on “The Dark Knight” but is backed by the availability of six other Batman pics on VOD, at no additional subscriber cost. There’s further editorial material on the website and via mobile devices.

Then there are the auteurs. Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” gets its firstrun in December and will be accompanied by other Allen pics on VOD. Docus and cinema magazine shows form part of the mix.

On the series side, OCS focuses on sophisticated, often witty fare that’s generated heavy interest Stateside. “We’ve tried to learn a lot from HBO about how we can create buzz through our editorial campaigns across platforms,” Jouhet says. “We do everything we can to get subscribers to want to find out everything about the series.”

HBO’s “True Blood” is a case in point. “It combines many important things for pay TV,” Jouhet says, describing it as an OCS brand flagship. “It’s the work of a great auteur — to have Alan Ball’s return was important for our image. The series’ spectacular nature makes it an event. And there’s a deep subtext about racism and many other social issues.”

OCS doesn’t draw too great a distinction between movies and series, which often display as much creativity, Jouhet argues. “We try to treat them the same way, knowing that people view them the same way, often watching two, three, four episodes in a row.

“The most eagerly awaited project is Martin Scorsese’s series ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ Does it matter if it’s a Scorsese movie or a Scorsese series? No, it’s just a great Scorsese project.”

Sharp wit, bittersweet comedy and gross-out humor also populate OCS’ lineup — shows like Alexander Payne’s “Hung,” animated skein “The Life and Times of Tim” and the Will Ferrell exec-produced “Eastbound and Down.”– Leo Barraclough

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